Rabu, 27 Juli 2011

"My father robbed me of more than he knew, orphaning each part of me of its past."

Frankensteins Monster Susan Heyboer OKeefe

Frankensteins Monster Susan Heyboer OKeefe

Susan Heyboer O'Keefe has taken Marry Shelley's hideous monster, a lump of mismatched parts, and infused him with a soul, his human-like spirit evolving through misadventure and the dogged cruelty of a man dedicated to his extermination, Robert Walton. The dying Frankenstein wrested a promise from his friend with his dying words, "swear to me that you will hunt down the creature and destroy it." There are certainly monsters afoot in this beautifully imagined story, but they are of human origin, twisted by passion and obsession. Seeking shelter from an indifferent, nay, hostile world, Frankenstein's monster embarks upon a bleak journey from a decaying Venice to the wild Orkney Islands and finally a Northumbrian coal mine, relentlessly pursued by Walton. From a tentative exploration of affection with a mute woman in Venice, the monster is tormented, Walton's singular mission to destroy his friend's foul creation. Spewing lies to impressionable villagers, Walton's forces his prey to flee.

As monster embraces humanity, his eager mind fed by books and brief encounters with those who tolerate his deformities, Walton proudly shoulders the burden of his task, filled with vengeance and a sort of divine madness, like a fanatical saint burning with the fervor of his hatred. Each small victory, a new place to sleep, the brief gift of friendship, is avidly destroyed, Walton become the monster's shadow, a terrible twin exacting retribution. In his grief, Frankenstein's creation turns to England with a plan to strike at Walton in kind, through the family her corresponds with regularly, a sister, Margaret Winterbourne, her husband and daughter, Lily, a beautiful sprite who flaunts convention, finding in the spontaneously named "Victor Hartmann" a formidable weapon against the restrictions of convention.

Dupe, fool, object of scorn and terror, "Victor" is swept into Lily's web, imagining one more chance to inhabit the world as other men but for the ugliness of his form. The half-mad Lily drives the next phase of the monster's journey, first to the wild country of the Orkney Islands, then to a Northumbrian coal mine, where a reckoning between foes becomes an epic battle waged in Hades, the cunning Walton filled with deadly fury after a mine collapses in the bowels of the earth. So human does this monster become, so anguished with the burden of his beginnings and the violent assemblage of his disparate parts, that it is impossible not to grant such a creature the grace of existence among men. True evil grows in the twisted pathways of a diseased mind, Shelley's monster an innocent born of Frankenstein's hubris, brutishly navigating a world of predators, until the realization, "I have been a monster of my own making. I will be a man of my own making instead." Luan Gaines/2010.

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4 komentar:

  1. Roberta Velasquez14 Desember 2010 13.32

    It's been probably 25 years since I read the original Frankenstein novel. I was a little hesitant to invest time in reading yet another sequel to a great classic, especially by a children's book author (she wrote one of my son's favorite books, One Hungry Monster : A Counting Book in Rhyme Board Book). This is Susan O'Keefe's first book written for adults, and wow, has she found her calling!

    This novel starts in the Arctic, where a ship captain named Robert Walton is searching for the North Pole. He finds a man dying on the ice and takes him aboard his ship. This man is Victor Frankenstein, who tells Walton a fantastic tale about a creature he created that is evil and must be stopped. Just before he dies, Frankenstein makes Walton promise to track down and kill his creature. Walton, not believing the creature exists, makes the promise. Not long after, Frankenstein passes and Walton sees the creature who has come aboard to say goodbye to his father. Walton attacks the creature, and is bested. Licking his wounds, he turns around, vowing to kill the creature whatever it takes.

    Fast forward 10 years. From this point in the book, we are reading journal entries from the creature himself. This is a tale of his attempt to figure out who he is, where he belongs, and whether he can exist in a world of men. Throughout the book, he is hunted by Walton, who continues his descent into madness.

    This story is about the creature (who takes on the name of his creator and becomes Victor) and his life. He finds himself constantly on the move, never allowed to make a home, since he is relentlessly pursued by Walton. This book moves at a fast pace, and you find yourself feeling for Victor even though he does some pretty awful things. I don't want to give you too much of the plot (and I would advise not reading the back of the book, because it does give away some of the plot), because I don't want to spoil this story for you.

    One thing I really commend the author on is that the violence (of which there is a good amount) is not overly graphic or gory. It adds to the story, as opposed to taking you out of the story.

    I did find the journal entries at the beginning a little distracting and choppy, but I soon got involved in the story. It even made me cry a few times! That is the mark of a great author. I didn't want the book to end. Another thing I really loved is that I had no idea where the book was going, or what was going to happen. That's a refreshing change from most novels I read!

    BalasHapus
  2. The idea behind this book is brilliant--take the ending of the classic Frankenstein and continue the story. By adding a twist, O'Keefe has created a memorable new story. The book is told from the point of view of the monster (a.k.a Victor) as he writes in a journal. If Frankenstein (Victor) was made up of separate parts of the dead, then surely his most valued asset was his brain. He quotes famous poetry, writes with an elegant style, and has the amazing ability to communicate the most specific details. This point of view story telling really draws you in as the book becomes a thrilling page turner.

    That is, until the middle of the book where Part 2 ends. The first half of the book had me glued--I read it every chance I had. After this half-way point, the book really slows down, the writing becomes deliberate, and the author takes too long to set up scenes in order to show the significance to Victor's mental state. Without revealing too much of the plot, the author drags Victor and Lily all the way to the Orkney Islands only to show a scene that feels like it lasts about 20 minutes (in which Victor learns and reveals more about his search for humanity).

    This aside, the book overall is fantastic. The themes O'Keefe deals with are real and accurately written, despite its fantasy/gothic background. Victor must deal with his reality and the perception of himself through his eyes and through the eyes of those that see him. Some might even argue this is the typical battle many people go through during their teen and high school years. Although Victor is a physical anomaly, his mind is sharp as he quests for the definition of "man" and what makes us "human." In some ways, it is a quest most people go on without even realizing it--we do it everyday by simply living and experiencing life, while Victor must learn these virtues in small steps.

    The other theme I found important is how "monsters" are created. I use this term loosely, as does the author, because each important character in the book does something "monsterous." How people become this way and the ramifications it represents is really at the core of this book. Walton, Winterbourne, and Lily are "monsters" in their own ways and are guilty of acts of "evil." From their point of view, the only monster is Victor because of his appearance--in fact, by the end of the book, what we really discover is how some souls can be corrupted (the three characters above) while other souls can be redeemed.

    At the end of the book, O'Keefe has supplied the reader with 15 discussion questions. All of these are excellent, thought provoking questions, designed for discussions in a classroom or a book discussion group. I read each questions and answered them in my mind, proving that the book will leave a lasting impression and make you think about it long after you finish Victor's last journal entry.

    Overall, I highly recommend this book. The themes, style, and story telling are top notch. Despite a slower second half, Victor's journey is worth experiencing simply because of how much it will make its readers contemplate their own humanity.

    BalasHapus
  3. Susan Heyboer O'Keefe has taken Marry Shelley's hideous monster, a lump of mismatched parts, and infused him with a soul, his human-like spirit evolving through misadventure and the dogged cruelty of a man dedicated to his extermination, Robert Walton. The dying Frankenstein wrested a promise from his friend with his dying words, "swear to me that you will hunt down the creature and destroy it." There are certainly monsters afoot in this beautifully imagined story, but they are of human origin, twisted by passion and obsession. Seeking shelter from an indifferent, nay, hostile world, Frankenstein's monster embarks upon a bleak journey from a decaying Venice to the wild Orkney Islands and finally a Northumbrian coal mine, relentlessly pursued by Walton. From a tentative exploration of affection with a mute woman in Venice, the monster is tormented, Walton's singular mission to destroy his friend's foul creation. Spewing lies to impressionable villagers, Walton's forces his prey to flee.

    As monster embraces humanity, his eager mind fed by books and brief encounters with those who tolerate his deformities, Walton proudly shoulders the burden of his task, filled with vengeance and a sort of divine madness, like a fanatical saint burning with the fervor of his hatred. Each small victory, a new place to sleep, the brief gift of friendship, is avidly destroyed, Walton become the monster's shadow, a terrible twin exacting retribution. In his grief, Frankenstein's creation turns to England with a plan to strike at Walton in kind, through the family her corresponds with regularly, a sister, Margaret Winterbourne, her husband and daughter, Lily, a beautiful sprite who flaunts convention, finding in the spontaneously named "Victor Hartmann" a formidable weapon against the restrictions of convention.

    Dupe, fool, object of scorn and terror, "Victor" is swept into Lily's web, imagining one more chance to inhabit the world as other men but for the ugliness of his form. The half-mad Lily drives the next phase of the monster's journey, first to the wild country of the Orkney Islands, then to a Northumbrian coal mine, where a reckoning between foes becomes an epic battle waged in Hades, the cunning Walton filled with deadly fury after a mine collapses in the bowels of the earth. So human does this monster become, so anguished with the burden of his beginnings and the violent assemblage of his disparate parts, that it is impossible not to grant such a creature the grace of existence among men. True evil grows in the twisted pathways of a diseased mind, Shelley's monster an innocent born of Frankenstein's hubris, brutishly navigating a world of predators, until the realization, "I have been a monster of my own making. I will be a man of my own making instead." Luan Gaines/2010.

    BalasHapus